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some genius amongst the filler...
on 19 October 2011
I would say to any prospective buyer of this album, have a listen first. There are probably only 4/5 really good tunes here, the rest are fairly unremarkable, sadly. 'Take Me Back' and 'Hyndforth Street', probably two of the best things Van has ever done are beautiful meditations on things past- in a similar vein in terms of execution to 'Rave on John Dunne'. In similar style is 'Pagan Streams', where Van rumbles on over a haunting piano backing which again is a thing of beauty. 'Be Thou My Vision' and 'Closer Walk with Thee'- passionate performances of well known hymns, where Van's exhortations and supplications to the deity sound heartfelt, convincing and moving. It's like Van cares. Unfortunately, the inspiration soon wears thin.
Fans will no doubt disagree with me, but I think Mr Morrison could have been a little more discriminating about some of the material that made the final cut for this set. Tracks like 'Village Idiot', 'Professional Jealousy' and 'Ordinary Life' are definite misfires, perfunctory at best, where dreary subject matter and meagre melodies make recourse to the CD skip function a wise option. Elsewhere, the songs have a sameness of approach, making for a less then stellar listening experience. So, a cautious recommendation.